Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Courage of Conviction

You’ve probably figured out that I’m not going to write one huge post on Kagan, but am going to post odds and ends at they occur to me. You may also think at this point that I am basically inclining in favor, but that I have some reservations, and you would be right.

One question I have is why our side is so bashful about embracing its principles, assuming that it actually has any. Bush named people like Roberts and Alito to the Court, and Obama is naming people who we cannot figure out. Olbermann addressed that on his show last night,

Olbermann: Lawrence, that does beg a significant point—as Senator Harkin pointed out, why does it that seem—and this is a great frustration of progressives particularly at the moment—why does it seem as if—as he put it—the conservatives get conservative nominees to this court and liberals or progressives get question marks?

O‘Donnell: Well, the conservatives have often been fooled—as often as they have been satisfied by what they got. And they were fooled by Justice Stevens. They were fooled by Souter. And it is true the liberal moving through the confirmation process is politically considered more risky than the conservative. And that is the—that is the accepted wisdom, the conventional wisdom within the Senate on getting these confirmations done.

So, Elena Kagan has, I think, very deliberately through her career kept her own counsel on anything that would be controversial in this hearing. When we first discussed this vacancy, Keith, when it first opened up, I said at that time that there are these Manchurian candidates out there now who have very deliberately hid what they think so that they can build a career that allows them to get through this very tortured and very modern confirmation process that we did not used to have as recently as the pre-television age.

He didn’t really answer the question, did he? He tried to make it sound like he did, something to the effect of the confirmation process being such that nominees must be careful not to actually express any ideology, but that does not answer the question. The records of conservative candidates are clear and unequivocal, whereas Obama’s picks are either very middle-of-the-road or are complete enigmas. Roberts and Alito were anything but “Manchurian candidates,” and yet Bush had no fear of nominating them, and was willing to do battle for their confirmation.

Why are Democrats so focused on being “centrist?”

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